Amid Crackdown on Separatist Leaders in J&K, Yasin Malik Detained
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Yasin Malik was detained Friday, 23 February, night amid indications of a wider crackdown on separatists in Jammu and Kashmir, officials told PTI.
Police and paramilitary forces have been put on high alert but there was no confirmation about any more detentions, reported the news agency.
The action comes eight days after Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) attacked a CRPF convoy in the state’s Pulwama district, leading to the deaths of 40 jawans.
Catch all the live updates on Pulwama terror attack here.
Protest by National Conference Leaders
Members of National Conference in Srinagar held a protest march against the recent alleged attacks on Kashmiris on Saturday.
General Secretary of the National Conference Ali Mohammad Sagar protested strongly against the crackdown.
“We're protesting against targeting of Kashmir businessmen and students in different parts of the country. No word of sympathy was given by the PM Modi. Everyone should fight politically, in this regard we are against crackdown and gherao,” he said.
Additonal Security Rushed to J&K
These arrests come amidst the Ministry of Home Affairs authorising 100 paramilitary companies to be rushed to Jammu and Kashmir with immediate effect. The CRPF has been requested to “ensure immediate movement” of the armed forces, by the ministry.
Crackdown On Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu & Kashmir Leaders
Police also swooped in on Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir members in Kashmir during the intervening night of Friday and Saturday. Nearly 150 people, mainly from the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz, were detained as tension gripped the Valley ahead of a hearing by the Supreme Court on Article 35A of the Constitution.
Though police termed the detentions as routine saying that leaders and potential stone pelters have been picked up in the past, officials privy to the developments said this is the first major crackdown on the Jamaat-e-Islamia.
The Jamaat cadres were picked up from various places, including Anantnag, Pahalgham, Dialgam, Tral – all in south Kashmir.
The Jamaat issued a statement condemning the detentions and said "...The move is a well designed conspiracy to pave way for further uncertainty in the region.”
The Jamaat claimed that during the intervening night of 22 and 23 February, police and other agencies launched a mass arrest drive and raided many houses in the Valley, wherein dozens of its central and district-level leaders were arrested, including its Ameer (chief) Jamaat Dr Abdul Hamid Fayaz and advocate Zahid Ali (spokesperson).
The Jamaat termed the raids as "fishy" at a time when the Supreme Court is to hear a petition regarding Article 35A of the Constitution.
"The way forces personnel unleashed the spree of mass arrest and detained dozens of Jamaat members prior to the hearing seems something is hatching behind the curtains. Any attempt of eroding or tampering Article 35A is unacceptable for people of Jammu and Kashmir," it said.
Mufti Calls Arrests ‘Arbitrary’
PDP President Mehbooba Mufti questioned the legality of the crackdown on Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir leaders, saying the "arbitrary" move will only "precipitate matters" in the state.
"In the past 24 hours, Hurriyat leaders and workers of Jamaat organisation have been arrested. Fail to understand such an arbitrary move which will only precipitate matters in J&K," Mehbooba tweeted.
Moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also questioned Malik's detention and the crackdown on the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir leadership, saying “force and intimidation” will only “worsen” the situation.
Leader of People's Conference, an ally of the BJP, Sajad Lone also said such crackdowns in the past have yielded no results.
(With inputs from PTI.)